Isabella Hellmann was a 41-year-old mom who worked hard as a real estate agent and made quite a bit of money for herself. She had a 9-month-old daughter named Emelia Bennett that she had together with her new husband, 38-year-old Lewis Bennett.
Isabella and Lewis had been dating for 4 years but had only been married for 3 months, when Isabella was tragically murdered.
Her murderer? Her own husband. This mom was murdered at sea by her new husband while they were on their honeymoon because he wanted to get his hands on her money.
Facebook; 41-year-old mom Isabella Hellmann is pictured above holding her daughter
Here is everything you need to know about this shocking case, and the dark details that emerged after Isabella’s death.
Isabella lived in a condo in Delray Beach, Florida. Lewis had moved in with her sometime before she gave birth to their daughter. Lewis worked as an engineer and had dual citizenship with England and Australia.
Facebook; Lewis and his wife Isabella are pictured above while out to dinner together
Lewis made divorced Isabella online, and things seemed to be going great in their relationship, as well as their new marriage.
The truth, however, was far from perfect. And far from happy. Isabella told a few of her close friends the reality about her and Lewis.
Emails, texts, and in-person conversations she had indicate that Isabella’s marriage was already in trouble, even though she had only been married a few short months.
Isabella and Lewis were behind on their property taxes. They also were in trouble of having their electricity cut off due to not making their payments.
They had also gotten renovations done on the condo and owed a couple of thousand dollars for that, which they had financed through Lewis’s credit cards. They were barely making the minimum payments for that.
Facebook; Isabella strikes a pose in the above photo while wearing a pink jacket and hat
Clearly, the couple was having their fair share of financial issues, but that wasn’t all.
Isabella had taken time off from work to have her daughter, but after Emelia was born, she didn’t want to return to her job. She wanted to continue to stay home with her daughter and be a stay-at-home mom.
Lewis greatly disagreed with Isabella wanting to stay home. He wanted her to return to work, and quite honestly they couldn’t afford to have her stay home any longer.
Facebook; Isabella is pictured above smiling with her daughter, whom she loved being home with
Isabella wasn’t too concerned with their financial situation. She wanted to stay home with Emelia regardless of the impact it would have on their already tight money.
To top it all off, Isabella shared with her friends that Lewis wanted to move to Australia and take Emelia too, but she didn’t want to go. She didn’t want to leave Florida, as it was home to her.
Isabella sent this text to Lewis six months before she vanished, “You make me crazy shouting, yelling, swearing.” This text was also sent before she decided to marry him, which shows that their relationship had been in trouble well before their marriage even started.
Facebook; Isabella, Lewis, and their daughter are pictured in the above photo together
In another text Isabella sent him, she said, “I’m tired of you telling me I’m the MOST WORSE PERSON YOU EVER MET BEFORE, everything I do it’s WRONG … this is very pathetic Lewis.”
Facebook; Isabella, Lewis, and their daughter are pictured in the photo above on a night out with one another
If this is truly how Isabella felt, why did she go through with her marriage? She did though. And then a few months later, she took a honeymoon with her new husband.
The couple took Lewis’s 37-foot long catamaran, named Surf Into Summer, for a cruise along the northern part of the Carribean. Their honeymoon happy ending, however, veered far off course.
On their way home to Florida from Cuba on Mother’s Day 2019, something went terribly wrong.
Lewis claims that on that fateful day, he left the catamaran on cruise control with Isabella at the helm while he went below deck at about 8 p.m. in the evening to take a nap.
Facebook; Isabella and Lewis are pictured next to each other in the photo above, wearing sunglasses
He says he was simply exhausted after 5 whole days of sailing, so that’s why he felt comfortable leaving her above deck to lay down for a bit.
I suppose it’s plausible, but it is a little weird he would leave his wife up there alone when she didn’t know anything about sailing. If he was that tired, couldn’t he have anchored the boat in place while he slept to make sure nothing bad happened?
United States Coastguard; pictured above is the photo of Lewis’s catamaran as it sank
At around 1 a.m. Lewis says he awoke to a loud thud from hitting something very large. He quickly rushed upstairs to the deck and when he got there…Isabella was nowhere to be found.
He realized the boat was taking on a lot of water, so he sent a distress call out and fired off his emergency positioning beacon.
Two hours after his distress call, a helicopter from the United States Coastguard rescued Lewis. He was about 30 miles offshore to the western part of the Bahamas.
He was safe, and not injured at all, but where was Isabella?
Lewis had been found by the Coastguard floating on his life raft about 1,000 yards away from his catamaran, which was half submerged in the water by the time he was found.
He told his rescuers that he was positive the boat hit something. He also said he thought the boat’s mast had come loose.
Facebook; Isabella is pictured in the photo above, wearing a black top
Lewis told investigators, “there is a possibility that she may have (fallen) in the water due to an accident with the mast hitting her.”
When Lewis was discovered on his life raft, the Coastguard also uncovered $100,000 of stolen silver coins on him, along with quite a few of his possessions that he had time to gather up.
Facebook; Isabella is pictured in the photo above on a Facebook page her family started dedicated to helping find her
For four long days, rescuers searched the waters by boat and helicopter for Isabella. They did everything they could to find her, but they couldn’t come up with a single trace of this mom, despite the fact that Lewis claimed she was wearing a life vest, and so she should have been floating somewhere.
Lewis also said Isabella was dressed in light clothing, which means she should have been quite visible, even though chances were good she only would have survived in the water for a few hours, had she not been unconscious.
As investigators began to look into what really happened that day, they discovered Lewis was lying. About some BIG things.
Facebook; Isabella is pictured in several photos above, along with her daughter, on a Facebook page dedicated to finding her
It turns out portholes on the catamaran had been opened well below the waterline. As for the damage done to the twin hulls, it all appeared to have happened from inside the boat. Not from the outside, as Lewis said had happened.
To add to how bizarre everything was turning out to be, just one day after the Coastguard announced they were calling off their search for Isabella, Lewis made a really messed up request.
Facebook; Isabella is pictured above with a horse in a post celebrating her birthday on the page dedicated to finding her on Facebook
Lewis asked the Coastguard if they could provide him with a “letter of presumed death.” This is essentially something that would speed up the process for Lewis to get his hands on Isabella’s money.
Unfortunately for Lewis, according to Florida state law, someone has to be missing for five whole years before they will declare them as legally deceased.
Adding the damage to the catamaran which was clearly done by an individual to Lewis’s request for a letter stating Isabella was dead, and authorities knew he was the culprit.
Another strange thing Lewis did? Just 24 hours after Isabella was first reported as missing, he called up police claiming that Isabella’s mom broke into their condo to steal her engagement ring.
I’m sorry, she wasn’t wearing her ring when she went missing? How weird is that? I would never take my ring off and go on a trip without it.
Facebook; Isabella is pictured above holding her daughter up in a beautiful garden setting
Even though her body has not been recovered, officials are now saying that Lewis intentionally sank his boat so he could make Isabella’s death seem accidental.
As for Isabella’s family? There is no doubt in their mind that Lewis did something terrible to Isabella while on their honeymoon.
Dayana, Isabella’s sister, had this to say about Lewis’s weird behavior to WPTV:
Facebook; Isabella, Lewis, and their daughter are all pictured together in the above photo, seeming like a happy family
“He was calm, he wasn’t crying or anything. When I saw him I ran to him and I hugged him and I said where is Isabella? And he said I don’t know.”
She went on to say, “I asked him, do you think she’s alive? Do you think she’s dead? And he said ‘I think she’s asleep.’ That was his answer.”
Speaking to DailyMail, Lewis told them, “We have got a daughter. We were planning a great life together and now I am alone without her. I loved her very much… we’ll just have to see.”
When DailyMail asked him if it seemed weird he left Isabella by herself to oversee the boat, he replied with this answer.
“The reason why I went to bed at 8pm was because we had been on the water for four or five days. You do get tired. We were just taking it in turns just to watch [the boat and navigate] I suppose.”
Facebook; Isabella snaps a selfie in the above photo while wearing sunglasses in her car
In November of 2018, Lewis pleaded guilty to murdering Isabella. As part of his plea deal, he is currently serving 8 years in jail. From inside jail, he has written this letter about Isabella, below.
Facebook; Isabella and Lewis are pictured together in the above photo
“I think about my wife and daughter every waking moment and wish we could be together again soon. She [Isabella] was such a positive person and always encouraged me to focus on the ”now” and to enjoy each and every moment.”
“I try to take her advice but the here and now for me at this moment is difficult to appreciate.”
“Saying that, there are some truly good people here who have helped my state of mind, so I am grateful for that. My sole motivation is my family and the thought of being together with them all again.”
“My family have been extremely supportive of me and are helping my parents to look after my baby girl. I have had letters from my family but aside from that I am left here feeling extremely isolated.”
Facebook; Isabella smiles in the above photo
As for Emelia? She is currently being raised in England by Lewis’s mom and dad.
Broward Sheriff’s Office; pictured above is Lewis’s mugshot
Murdered Teenager Sent A Chilling Text “He’s In My Room” Before She Was Killed By Mom’s Boyfriend
Riley Crossman was a 15-year-old from Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. She was attending high school and living with her mom, Chantel Oakley. Riley’s parents are divorced, but they both live in the same town.
On May 8th, Chantel went into Riley’s room like she does every morning before school. It was 7:15 in the morning and Riley wasn’t in there. Chantel thought nothing of Riley’s room being empty because her classes started at 7:45 and she would have had to have left by then to be on time.
When 3:30 p.m. rolled around and Riley failed to come home, Chantel definitely started getting worried. And when Riley’s school called her to say Riley had been marked as absent that very day and had not showed up at all, she started to panic.
Instagram; Riley smiles and rests her head on her hand in the above photo
Chantel drove to Riley’s school to search it herself. There was no sign of Riley and nobody had seen her that day. Chantel then called Riley’s boyfriend, Haydn Lacy, but he had not seen her either.
Chantel then called Riley’s dad, and finally…placed a call to the police.
Instagram; Riley smiles and strikes a pose in the photo above
Chantel knew something had happened to Riley because she is very reliable for a teenager. She would not just run off and not tell anyone, that wasn’t in her nature.
She went on to say Riley can’t drive and doesn’t even have her learner’s permit, so she could not have just driven somewhere.
“That is why I immediately would start checking things because she would not run away,” Chantel said about her daughter to Dateline.
“She loves us. She wouldn’t want us to be upset.”
Riley’s dad said he agreed with Chantel, “She wouldn’t just run off. She has never hurt anyone in her life. She’s very gentle.”
Instagram; Riley wears a beautiful red dress in the above photo while sitting on her couch at home
Chantel last saw Riley the day before she went missing. Riley came home from school and woke her mom up at around 3:30 so she would not be late for the evening shift at work.
She said Riley was acting completely normal and not off at all. She didn’t notice anything wrong with her daughter. Riley went back to her bedroom while Chantel got ready to leave and head to her job.
All of Riley’s friends and family members agree that she is just a reliable and respectful girl, as well as a perfect student.
Instagram; Riley holds a big bouquet of bright pink roses in the photo above
She is on her school’s gymnastics team and she participates in quite a few extracurricular activities. She wouldn’t run away. She wouldn’t skip school. She wouldn’t leave her parents worried sick.
The local police then got involved in trying to locate Riley. Where would this girl have gone?
Riley had been dating her boyfriend Haydn for 8 months. He posted a photo of her missing poster with the caption, “Doing everything I can to try and find her, I haven’t slept since she’s been missing and I physically cannot sleep or function without her I’m worse than ever right now and I need her to be here and safe, I can’t go any longer without her I just want her with me right now I’ve been worried to death and I just need something to make me feel better but she’s the only one who can do that.. I really hope you’re ok baby just please be safe.”
Instagram; pictured above, Riley’s boyfriend Haydn posted a photo of her missing flyer on social media
Riley’s dad, Lance, said that there was just no way Haydn could be involved in her disappearance. He also said Haydn was a positive influence on her in every way.
Instagram; Riley and Haydn are pictured above wearing matching sweatshirts that say King and Queen
“He’s a pretty good kid. Riley has been pulling her grades up since she’s been with him,” Lance said to Dateline.
“He’s pretty tore up over this. I know that’s the first place people typically look for suspects, but it’s not the case here.”
At 5:40 in the morning on the day she disappeared, Riley tried to video call Haydn but he didn’t pick up. That was the last recorded activity on Riley’s phone that day.
Haydn had not been at school when Riley failed to show up: he was on a field trip. He didn’t even know Riley was missing until he came home from his trip at 3:30 in the afternoon.
Instagram; Riley and Haydn are pictured above at their school’s Homecoming Dance together
Berkeley Springs High School, where Riley attended, actively asked all their students to do everything in their power to help bring Riley back home.
They even held a rally in her honor to, “show of support from the BSHS community in the efforts to get her home safely.”
Facebook; pictured above is a photo from Berkeley Springs High School’s rally for Riley
Speaking to Dateline, Lance said, “We’ve had several volunteer searches that we’ve organized. There’s just been so many areas that we have covered on ground searches. It’s been the worst thing that’s ever happened to any of us. None of us are sleeping or eating very well.”
He ended by saying, “We do have a good support system and community support. But it’s been horrific.”
The community was so supportive in trying to find Riley that the sheriff’s office had to post on Facebook saying they didn’t need any more physical resources in the hunt for Riley.
“We are not looking for any additional equipment or resources now other than those who can walk and physically search areas,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement online.
As the days went on, it wasn’t just the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and local community volunteers searching for Riley.
The FBI got involved. The Department of Homeland Security got involved. The West Virginia State Police got involved.
Facebook; pictured above is the statement the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department released on social media about the volunteer efforts
And if you take a look at Riley’s own social media, her posts became increasingly dark leading up to her disappearance, which is deeply different from what she normally posts.
Happy photos with her family and Haydn, positive quotes and messages; that’s what normally appears on Riley’s social media.
Instagram; Riley snaps a photo in a bathroom mirror of herself wearing a sweatshirt and jeans
Right before Riley went missing, she snapped a few photos she posted with captions like, “You’re like a penny, your practically worthless, no one wants you, you’re almost always in a dirty place, you’re two-faced, you don’t shine, and your value is very very low” and “smile through the pain.”
Going from bubbly and happy to dark and dismal, people started to think maybe she did perhaps run off.
That wouldn’t be like her, but then again her recent posts were nothing like her…
Instagram; Riley smiles with a dog filter overlaying her face in the above photo
But none of her social media accounts had been updated since she went missing. And there was no activity on her cell phone either.
Days went by and still, nothing. Authorities and volunteers continued to desperately search for her.
Instagram; Riley crosses her arms over her head in the photo pictured above
Local ponds and lakes, wooded areas, abandoned buildings, uninhabited areas, abandoned cars, backyards, underpasses…everything anyone could think of was searched.
Authorities and Riley’s family urged the public to not just be on the lookout for a blonde 15-year-old teenager…they suspected Riley very well could have been adducted and forced to dye her hair another color.
And then, authorities turned their suspicions closer to home. Inside Riley’s mom Chantel’s home, to be exact.
Chantel was dating a 41-year-old man named Andy J. McCauley. The initial statement Andy gave to the police wasn’t adding up, after all. Video surveillance and eyewitness accounts ended up helping the police to uncover he was anything but honest about the day Riley disappeared.
Instagram; Riley poses in a mirror and snaps a photo of herself at a hotel on a trip
Andy told authorities that he left his job at 9 a.m. the day Riley disappeared so that he could go back to the house to get drugs. He said he was only out of work for 2 hours before returning from his trip.
Video surveillance proved that he was not telling the truth and that Andy had left work for far more than 2 hours that fateful day. He was also caught on camera driving a different route to the house than the one he told authorities he had taken.
Now, why would he lie about all of this? What did Andy have to hide?
Instagram; Riley smiles and puts her head on her hand in the photo above
Authorities uncovered that Riley had sent some chilling texts to Haydn the night before she vanished. “Andy’s in my room,” she texted him at 11:01 p.m. on the evening of May 7th.
Just 12 minutes after Riley sent Haydn that first crazy text, she sent a second, and it would be the last text message she ever sent.
“I’m scared, babe,” Riley wrote to him.
Andy was on authorities’ radar the day Riley was reported missing by her mom, but this is what sent their suspicions over the edge.
Riley was finally found, on May 16th, 8 days after she had initially gone missing. Located high up on a very steep cliff, there she was.
Instagram; Riley poses in the above photo with her glasses on, which she captioned “Although you may think I’m weird…I assure you, I am”
Cadaver dogs had located Riley, and she was in such a terrible state of decomposition that the medical examiner couldn’t exactly determine how Riley had died. It could be many months before Riley’s true cause of death can be uncovered, and we may never know what happened to her.
Instagram; Riley smiles and snaps a selfie in the photo above
Cadaver dogs also helped pin what happened to Riley on Andy. They discovered the signs of a dead body in the bed of Andy’s truck. In addition to this, drywall mud and sheet metal screws were found on Riley’s body and also found in Andy’s truck and toolbelt from work.
Authorities then revealed that Andy had called Riley 3 times from 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. before she disappeared. The motive for why Andy did this is still completely unknown at this time, but he was arrested right after Riley’s remains were discovered and is police custody.
He is not eligible for bail and has not pleaded to the charges against him yet. Andy is being charged with Riley’s murder.
Riley’s dance teacher Holli McCumbee said to WDTV that Riley “was a ray of sunshine.”
Instagram; Riley sits on the floor of her bedroom in the above photo
“She could walk into any room and smile and everybody would just smile. She was that kid. She was one of those kids that was going to go somewhere. She had a very bright future. She could have done whatever she wanted.”
Twitter; pictured above is Andy’s mugshot, along with a headline about his arrest for Riley’s murder
If You Liked This Article, You Might Like These Other Picks On Chip Chick
We write these stories because it’s important to bring awareness to situations like these and it’s important for the voices of the victims to be heard. If you want to keep reading additional stories like this, please see the other stories from us below.